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tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  October 5, 2014 12:00pm-1:16pm EDT

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-- they show the construction between 1904 and 1914. that is on american artifacts, taking viewers into archives, museums, and historic sites around the country. next, central connecticut state robert wolfrofessor and his class examine how the memory of the civil war has changed for him its 50th and 100th anniversaries to the present. the class looks at how the memory of the civil war has largely focused on men's experience in battle leaving slaves and women out of the story. at the sesquicentennial anniversary, the war is more nuanced but still debated. this class is about one hour and 10 minutes. >> ok. so in getting ready for this, i wanted to do like a little background work on the so-called semi-centennial of the civil war, which was of course 1911 to 1915. so-called semi-centennial of the civil
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war, which was of course 1911 to 1915. i found this quote. i'll tell you where it comes from in a little bit, but it seems to me to encapsulate the feeling of the early 20th century. the days of the civil war now belong to the historians, the poets, the writer of romance, and the fromtist. now i think you would add the re-enactor there, probably. but of course, this is a period at which the civil war is still very much a part of living memory. right? there are livingductions of the war, people involved in combat who are still alive. in 1912, state of pennsylvania issued an invitation of honorably discharged veterans of the civil war to come to gettysburg for a reunion of sorts. and you probably have already
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seen pictures of this or read about it in david wright's book. i want to spend a little time talking about that. that marked something of the high water mark. it was kind of the peak of their aspirations. they invaded the north. the defeat of gettysburg was in many ways the beginning of the end. it proved at least on the battles there was no way for the confederacy to take the war to the end. so here we have some pictures. this is actually a picture of new york veterans having a meal at gettysburg. if you were to look at the public narrative, the narrative you would find in newspapers and commemorative pamphlets in public pronouncements, the sentiments expressed during this period were very much part of what david white called the reconciliationest's memory of the war. to quote the pennsylvania evening telegraph, there can be
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no unworthy sectionalism. no little memories in the prospect with a united country, with a spirit of patriotism pervading the length and breadth of us, the american public of today is not the same as it was. okay, so while we talk tonight, i want you to think about the language being used. and we acan come back to some o it, but there can be no unworthy sectionalism and what that might tell us. as you probably all know, in 1913, union and confederate veterans re-enacted the charge of the battle of gettysburg. this is a photograph of union and confederate veterans shaking hands across the wall at the top of the hill. how many of you have been to gettysburg? so you know the wall. you can see this. i don't think as historians we
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should underestimate the importance of this gesture. given the extraordinary passage of the conflict we studied. let me ask you a question. what were the feelings of union and confederate soldiers for one another during the war? what do we know about those? they didn't like each other at all. jamie? okay. >> acknowledged it. sort of a commonality amongst experience. >> later or at the time. >> at the time, i think there is expression. >> okay, john. >> to an extent, it's where they're coming from, too. as geographic, from the border states -- [ inaudible ] >> all right, let's keep going a little bit. the way i look at some of those
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narratives, i agree there are signs of kind of a shared understanding, but it seems to me in so far there are tensions, they are at their peak during the war. union soldiers, we have seen in james' work that there's a clear desire to cell as many of the enemies as possible. >> one of the things i found in doing my paper is general lee was quite dismissive of union soldiers. and i'm not sure that i -- i know sectionalism is the issue, but it does seem to me that the south seemed to have more of a marshall spirit, and i thought they thought that themselves. >> i agree, i do think so. and thus, it must have been difficult to find yourself on the losing side. yeah?
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>> on the eastern theater or the western theater, and slaves mostly fought in the east. >> right. >> on the potomac. and the armies in the west, like sherman, they had a different opinion. >> they might indeed. a very good point. i wanted to put up this other image because if i go back for just a moment and look at the handshake over the wall at gettysburg, as a student of the civil war, the image that comes to mind is this one. who has seen this image before? this is a cartoon from 1872. mocking horace greely, who was then running for president. he had said let us clap hands over the bloody chasm of civil war memory. and he re-created it by
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depicting greely to expending out his hand over the dead of anderson vil andersonville prison. and i think for me, at least, the notion that we have moved from this to this is significant, right? how in your opinion do we get from a northern memory that is at least in part in 1872 still strongly condemning the confederate military apparatus, from there to the handshake? what do you think? john? >> it's fromçascpx the whole dr reconciliation. it's bringing back the union together in an attempt to create a more robust, complete, together nation. >> okay, tara? >> i think it's time. in 50 years has past before they
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have taken the photo. some of the hard feelings may start to vanish over the time. >> okay, jamie. >> that was sort of the moment for a lot of the veterans who are now politicians to find a commonality amongst imperialism in the late 19th century. >> when confederate veterans decided they should support the spanish american war, that became a moment of sort of unity. john? >> i think there's a bit of a political nature to it, and then there's also, you know, even though we're seeing veterans, there's less veterans at that point because it pools attention because there's less people involved in the event, and it's sort of an effort. part of it is the confederacy wants to expand the honorable image of themselves. >> okay. so whose memory is not visible
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in the hand shake? austin? >> african-americans. >> african-americans. okay. if we go back -- if we go back to that pennsylvania editorial, i'm going to read you a couple other passages and i want you to listen carefully. so we have that editorial that says there can be no unworthy sectionalists, right? it also says the following, in reference to kind of the valor of soldiers, right? both vanquished and visitors gave sublime display of the heroism of the american race. and then later, looking back across the entire period of the war, that period has enriched american history beyond co
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computation and the results are of inestimatable value to the race, both in the present and in the future. what words leap out at you in those passages? does any word? what do you think the writer means by american race? >> talking white, talking white race. >> talking white, paul. >> commonality. >> so if we're going to talk about civil war memories, i thought i would put up a different sort of image. here we have the ku klux klan, right? this is the early ku klux klan of the post-civil war period, and also we have the ku klux klan of the 1920s. this is a photograph circa 1922.
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when we talk about civil war memory, should we talk about the klan? i'm going to be suggesting that's a yes. what would be the consequence of thinking about the klan while thinking about civil war memories? matt? >> when you talk about the klan, you have to look -- i'm thinking reconstruction, 1876. what, 1877. where you have the federal government actually going out there and putting, i forget the law they actually put in place. >> the ku klux klan act. >> there you go. basically going out to arrest and stop these types of violent actions against african-americans. >> yes. not successfully, right, for the most part. so the ku klux klan is very much a part of the post-war reconstruction history, right? but why might be think about them in a context of the 50th
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anniversary? john? >> i was going to jump off what matt said. it leaps into this as well. the ku klux klan kind of shows everything that didn't go quite the way it could have after the civil war. it shows the failings of reconstruction. the failing to kind of move past slavery into equality because you still had these people who are wielding fear and power in a large portion of the nation. >> okay. amy? >> it's more of the nation and that lies around that lie. it is the creation of that lie that even persists in one form or another to this day. >> exactly. we want the look. so traditionally, when we talk about the rise of the klan, beginning in the middle of the second decade of the 20th century, we talk about thomas
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dixon, the clansman, who gave birth of the nation. the question to us, it seems to me, should be why does the klan seem like the logical reference point? because the klan -- whether it's for dixon or griffin, for the book or for the movie or for the growth of the klan culture, that by the 1920s, embraces millions of people. what is it, how is it as salient an image? >> the memory. it disappears only to be -- what was, 1925, there were 4 million members, and certainly, that is a lost cause through the '30s and the '50s and '60s in one form or another. and that means it was destroyed by civil rights. >> great, thank you. so i think right, this gets us
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on -- this gets us off to think a little bit about the role of race. i'm going to talk a little about what i think race means in that period of time. we have to be very careful when we see the term american race. it is the height of race thinking in the early 20 tth century. it's part of it. by american race, the people who use those terms generally thought what kind of white folks should be. but it wasn't simply white versus black. it was far more complex in the 19th century. in some ways, the rise of the clan is a reflection of nativist sentism. so if we remember that, remember that as groups sort of looked to try to think their way through this 20th century, right, they looked back at this ultra
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violent group from the civil war as a model for how to go forward. when we think about the semi-centennial, we need to remember it's exactly the same period of time, i should say 1911 to 1915, my apologies, should say that, but we need to remember that 1913 is the year when woodrow wilson segregated the federal government, right? started with agencies like the postal service and moved from there. we have birth of the nation. we mentioned that. by 1924, we have the immigration restriction act, which pegs the number of people who can migrate to the united states at a percentage of that number that was in the country in 1890, which is to say it shifts the focus from eastern southern european migrants back to western and northern european migrants. i think we have to see all these
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things as being connected in some way. they're also connected to historical scholarship. one of the things i want to talk about is the connection between the civil war memory and the kind of scholarship that exists about civil war and reconstruction. we talk a lot about history and memory. those of you in public history, which is a good chunk of you, you would probably talk about it more than anybody else. you're probably familiar with this quote. white wrote on a book, history, what trained historians do, is a reasoned reconstruction of the past, rooted in research. critical and skeptical of human motive and action. memory, however, is often treated as a sacred set of potentially sacred meaning, preserving a heritage or meaning. memory is often own, history interpreted. memory is passed down through generations. history, as you all know, is
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revised. i would say in many ways, history and memory are rarely as they are. these comments reflect a later state of scholarship than you would find at the turn of the century. the turn of the century is the birth of the dunning school. it looks at reconstruction, it's all reconstruction as a terrifying and terrible mistake, placing the vote in the hands of african-americans. dunning and his powers arguing a big mistake of reconstruction. so scholarship of this era and memory of the civil war are all resonating together. so that's my 50-year piece. any questions? because i would love them. jamie? >> what did they do for scholarship, to support that at that time? >> for the most port, having
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read a lot of the old pieces, they generally looked at political pamphlets, speech said, documents of fairly famous people. if you look at any prominent politician in the 18th century, their papers and letters were published by somebody. all you needed was a good library and you could make progress. federal documents in some case. >> were the documents of frederick douglass just ignored? >> no, john? >> the semicentennial celebration really portraying or really were the sreconciliation of the soldiers. i read something that it was more of a political move and not really a friendly gathering. people who were actually in the war. >> it's quite possible that we look back and see it stronger
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than it was, because certainly, there were political tensions between the north and the south in 1911 and 1913, but then again, you have woodrow wilson as president and he's a sournl president from stanton, virginia. and so his world, that world is already very different than what's come before. [ inaudible ] he does. he does. austin? >> quick question. when the klan was revived around the semisencennial, that's like when the flag was used wide llys there a reason the battle flag was used over the state flag of the government? >> i'm the wrong person to answer that question. i'll have to get back to you on that one. >> okay. >> any other questions? yeah, matt. >> the notion that a celebration of the semicentennial, but i
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know that a lot of veteran groups were meeting on a regular basis. always having reunions and certainly in the south. that was a big deal for small towns because they would get their local brigades or whatever volunteer units they came up. was that a way that the country was able to perpetuate the memory of the civil war? or do you think that's how the memory was sort of skewed, so to speak? >> i think memory is never pure. i don't think it ever can be. certainly, in the north, which is where i know more, the grand army and the republic, captors of the gar, served both as ways for remembering but also as platforms for political action. and so i suspect that's true for the confederate effort as well. >> interesting that a lot of these confederate high-profile generals were vilified for any
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criticism they had of how the war went. but at these particular reunions, they were cheered. so it's almost like you had almost at a national lev, sort of a disconnect from the local level. i'm just wondering if the klan was more -- that memory was more local and then graduated up to a national level because of the birth of a nation or did it just come out of the war? >> so, what strikes me as being really interesting is the focal point of the klan is in indiana and the midwest, which is actually not the place where you have large numbers of confederate backgrounds. you have large numbers of the other one, other kind. so the new klan of the early 20th century is to me fascinating because presumably, you have grandchildren of union veterans. right?
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as significant players in the klan. >> just because it's sort of like a white supremacist type of gee, wasn't it great back then? >> i think that's part of it. i would love to hear what other people think. we have to be careful with the term white supremacist, which is correct for us, but we're projecting it backwards. that's why i want to go back to the phrase american race. they saw that phrase as having a set of meanings they could grasp. >> you mention immigration, but at the same time, you have this industrial revolution where people are living in poverty and people who are just miserable, days of egrarrian bliss, so to speak. >> these are agrarrian protestant, christian, often evangelicals. prohibition is one of these large issues.
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they sort of proudly sport prohibition. >> it almost plays into the whole frederick jackson turner idea of the great american race conquering all of america, and we have gone away from that because now we have all this filth and problems in the city. >> it does reflect all the prejudices. yeah. yeah. john, did you have something? all right, so if we jump forward to the civil war centennial, so this is, i think there's a lot more scholarship to work with. i think you can see quickly that the reconciliationest memory of the war is alive and well. this is a medallion that was produced by the united states civil war centennial commission. there was in fact a national centennial commission, something we do not have for the 150th. and its job was to kind of
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facilitate and organize and provide some kind of coherent structure to the commemoration. every state was to have its own commission. to plan activities. now, in 1961, the history of the politics are very different than 50 years before. right? so here is a statement from that centennial commission, and i found this one. what was lost by the war was lost by all of us. what was finally gained was gained by all of us. how do you read that statement? how do you read that? yes? >> i guess you could look at it as although a lot was lost, both
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loss and the gains for both sides was a gain for both in the end. so it was kind of an everything got something and everyone lost something. >> okay. emily? >> and it sounds to me like there was no distinction between the sides. you know, it didn't matter. we all came through it together and came out of it together as one without distinction. >> okay. john? >> to me, it was kind of like coming back to the recsill yashz thing before. what was lost was the union and that what everyone gained when the war was over was once again a reunified union. so what is gained is the nation, essentially. >> so yeah? >> what i thought about it was everyone, both sides lost people, that people died in this war, and so you have hundreds of thousands of people who died, so
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yes, everyone lost someone, everyone knew someone who died, but the freedom you knew was gained by everyone at the end. >> who's the i? john? >> there's no mention of slavery or anything. >> could you reconcile that statement with the experience of the people you read about in southwest georgia in susan donovan's book? >> john? >> no. >> why not? why would it be difficult to reconcile with this? >> because if you are a slave, you didn't lose your slaves. >> okay, you gained. right? you gained. and of course, i mean, we talked about this. we talked a little bit about cultural reference points, but
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it's also true in the 1960s, you really did have different terminologies for the war. so it may have been the united states civil war commemoration commission, but there were states that refused to use the term civil war, right? so terms like the war of the saudi arabian southern insurrection, the war of aggression, were terms muff more at play than they were or have been in my time. the war between the states was taught in maryland, which was meant, i think, to be more neutral. now, as it happens, the national civil war commemoration commission had its own controversy. what is happening in 1961 aside from commemorating the civil war? jen? >> civil rights movement? >> civil rights movement. so we have brown v. the board of education in 1964. we have sit-ins in greensboro in
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1960, right? so all of these things are part of the backdrop, and not long before the anniversary of gettysburg, medgar evers is murdered in his driveway, right? so that is the backdrop to this. so when the civil war centennial commission held one of its meetings in charleston, south carolina, its challenge was this. new jersey sent delegates who weren't white. and the south carolina centennial commission arranged for the guests to stay in the francis marion hotel, which was for whites only. and it set off a firestorm because in some ways that other memory of the civil war, the emancipationest memory which is not floated to the surface as readily in 1913 floated very quickly in 1961 and beyond because of the context. in the end, that war between the
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states civil war commission was solved by holding the charleston meeting on a federal naval base in charleston so that the meeting itself was on desegregated ground even though most people stayed in the hotel in charleston. anyone a stamp collector? i certainly was as a kid. i had these stamps and i never gave them any thought. so if you can see them, what do you see? there's one stamp for each year of the war. so you have -- where do we have it? we have sumpter for 1861. shiloh for 1862, gettysburg for '63, the wilderness for '64, and then appomattox. what do you see in these stamps, tara? >> i see that women and
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african-americans are kept out of them. >> yes, i think that's fair. austin? >> they focus on military aspect of the war and not like the political or social implications or aspect. >> if we think of some of the books we looked at, it's not -- it's not, we looked at some stuff about the military conflict, but this is all about the military conflict, and tara, err completely right. there are no women here. so it's about men's experience in the war, presumably. even though we see silhouettes and we could imagine one of these is african-american, i think the asemption is they're not. what do you think of the appomattox quote? if you can see the stamp here, appomattox with malice toward none. that's lincoln. right? that's lincoln's second inaugural. okay, with malice toward none.
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which seems to me possibly could be an effort to kind of print reconciliationest memory right on the stamp. so, there were states of the war commission, and they each produced lots and lots and lots of stuff. the maryland civil war sen tellian commission, which you know is near and dear to my heart, my home state, produced a wonderful brochure i will show all of you at some point. this is a fascinating brochure. it's some 60 pages long and it details all the places you can go to remember the civil war. has little narratives, biographies, vignettes and what is striking is there is exactly
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one african american mentioned. anyone want to guess? it is indeed frederick douglass. it does specifically mention douglass role with the african-american troops. however, the rest of the booklet, the vast majority of the booklet, it is astounding how many civil war memorials there are in the state of maryland. i grew up near robert e. lee park, and i knew there were several civil war monuments, but this is one after another. and including one to confederate nurses, by the way. there's even an entry for john brown's raid. that might strike you as odd, but you need to remember that he planned his raid in maryland and stayed at a farm owned by a family named kennedy. what's striking about the entry on the raid is it doesn't tell
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you why john brown raided harper's ferry. it just says john brown raided the arsenal at harper's ferry. there is no mention of the thought of freeing the slaves. none of that. none of that as it slides. >> as a good thing? >> oh, no. it's almost encyclopedic. let fee get the facts down and let's be done. in fairness, most were done like that. >> it's odd they would have commemorated that. >> it, too, is part of the -- john brown is part of kind of a segregationist memory, because everyone agreed that john brown was crazy, right? in my high school history textbook, we had a picture of john brown and there was an article that studied pictures of john brown because there are
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fairly neutral pictures of john brown and then there are pictures that make him look crazy. my textbook had him look crazy. and it had the caption, john brown, possibly a monomaniac. nice neutral statement for your history textbook. so the booklet is fascinating. it's also fascinating to me as someone who studied maryland history. it's fascinating because i -- as i said, i had no idea there was that much confederate memory. if you were to go back, my civil war buffs in the class, right? for every -- for every one soldier who serves for the union, right, how many served for the confederates? from maryland? what's the ratio of union to confederate troops?
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just in maryland? well, it's obviously a trick question, right? i'm just setting you up, clearly. right? in fairness, somewhere, some maryland historian at some point will correct me because it's actually very, very difficult to calculate the number of marylanders who fight the confederacy because many flee the state. they don't necessarily get counted in maryland units. they're serving all throughout units, especially units from west virginia, but the ballpark estimate that the state archive uses is 60,000 union troops and 20 some thousand confederates, right? it's in that sense. now, it is also under federal control. and so you could argue that those numbers are inflated. but that's not a realistic picture. but i think no matter how you
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look at it, it's difficult to say that the monumentation in maryland, which is 95% confederate, reflects what actually happened in the war. instead, it reflects what people want to remember. or another way of looking at it is something like this. maryland's public narrative in 1960s has more stake in segregation than maryland had in the confederacy itself. that's the way i would look at that. now, connecticut also had centennial commission. it produced lots of pamphlets. i am grateful for dr. worshower and giving me insights to the commission. because he's researched the members. what's fascinating about the connecticut one, of course, is it, too, says nothing about slavery. it, too, says nothing about emancipation. only if you read -- well, i read
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one pamphlet. but the one i read about how to plan activities, specifically a manual for observance is all about the war, not about emancipation. so how many of you are teachers again? let's get a poll. a whole bunch. so this is the instructions. this is the standard. imagine this is the state level standard for teaching civil war to school kids. so in the school program, the student can be led to see that dissensions between people are caused by ordinary human motivations and desires, byañ]x selfishness, hate and pride, that the divisions that led to this awful war in all parts of the country, please note, and that the diseases of mistrust, hatred and war can be cured only by uniting behind a bigger idea
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or a bigger goal than the ones that divide us. can i pick on you for a moment? >> sure. i think it's about -- as much about kind of reflecting on what you're purposely trying to purposely trying to forget. if you're talkingéj$p!out the things that divide you, those are the issues like slavery. but we're not going to concern ourselves with those, we're going to concern ourselves with things that are going to suck us back and bring us back together, you know. and that's the reconciliationist thing, rather than the emancipationist thing. what divides us is no longer the relevant topic of conversation. it's the bigger things that bring us back together. >> so jen? >> i think no one is to blame.
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i guess everyone is to blame in that no one is to blame. and we all came together and solved the problems. >> and everything was good. >> and it happened in all parts of the country. and like the civil war happening in california. >> california not a big player in this thing. >> they don't understand that part. it doesn't help. >> i haven't looked to see what in 1961 that california civil war commemoration is much less hawaii and alaska. i have no idea. but in theory, they had, you know, commemoration commissions. jamie, did you want to -- >> this is sort of a nice cold war narrative, too. black and white, good and bad. you can use it for almost any end, if you want. >> i don't think you can extract it from the civil rights movement, or the civil war. if you look at dwight
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eisenhower's speech at gettysburg, kennedy was originally supposed to speak, but did not. eisenhower did. if you read eisenhower eve speech, when you get to the end of it, it's a strong cold war message. even though he talks about equality for all. it's still a very strong cold war message. very strong. okay. now, the national civil war commemoration for the centennial was not as successful at holding things together. in part, because there was very much dissension over what the war meant. there was a trickling of understanding that the civil war might have something to do with what in the '60s would have been called racial issues, all right? you may recognize the gentleman on your left. this is alabama governor george wallace. wallace was perhaps one of the most fiery segregationist figures of the era. and wallace also went to
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gettysburg. but wallace, of course, was already famous for one particular line, the one we associate with him. when told that the university of alabama had to desegregate, he gave a speech, and i will quote it. in the name of the greatest people that have every trod this earth, can you hear the echoes of the american race there? i draw the line in the dust, and toss the gauntlet at the feet of tierney and say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. of course, by the time that wallace went to gettysburg in june of 1863, or actually, slightly after, the federal government had already forced the university of alabama to desegregate. wallace had to sort of stand aside as the national guard admitted two students into the school. but wallace went to gettysburg. hef attended a redead tags of
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the alabama monument, which had been placed in 1933. he gave a speech which i won't quote at length. but wallace's speech was very, very clear. the country should, quote, look to the south, end quote, as the true defender, quote, of the rights of states and individuals. wallace also said that the country was on the brink of civil warfare. that also is a quote. and told his colleagues in the senate that if they passed a public accommodations bill, mandating that public accommodations be open, regardless of color, this is wallace, quote, you should make preparations to withdraw all our troops from berlin, vietnam, and the rest of the world, because they need to police america. of course, we talked about the back drop.
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the civil war centennial occurred with the back drop of the civil rights movement. and of the very violent repression that was sort of -- that african-american -- activists in the south. the freedom summer of 1964 when the three were murdered in mississippi, that is sort of just in the offing. the civil war centennial. if we then ask ourselves where does emancipationist memory go, if it's only the tiniest level visible, in the official commemorations, where would we find it? david blight suggests, and i think he's quite brilliantly correct here, that we need to look in the obvious place. so we have all heard martin
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luther king jr.'s "i have a dream" speech. we've all heard it. but, as blight points out, the text that we remember is afterthought. it's a late addition to the speech. the speech was written for the march on washington in 1963. a march about jobs and equality. but if you listen to the narrative of the text, what do you think you're going to hear? it's all about the 100th anniversary of emancipation. so unfortunately, i am not dr. king, so i will read it. but it will not sound like dr. king, because i am not that great a speaker. so let me just take one chunk of the text and you can hear it. all right? five score years ago, nice echo of lincoln there, five score years ago, a great american in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the emancipation
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proclamation. this momentous decree is a light of hope to millions of negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. it came as a joyous day break to end the long night of their captivity. classic brilliant king. but then listen to the next passage. but 100 years later, the negro is still not free. 100 years later, the life of the negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation. the negro lies on an island of poverty in an ocean of prosperity. it's not part of that official civil war commemoration narrative. it stands outside of it.
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questions? comments? jamie? >> john lewis had to change his speech. the one he changed, he talks about how we are going to march through the south like sherman, all right? and burn it to the ground. of course, he had to change that obviously. the civil war is everywhere. it's all over the place. >> right. and this is the reason we call the civil rights movement the second reconstruction. jen? >> i think it wasn't like the monuments didn't exist. when i was in d.c., the professor took us on a tour, said it was paid for by free slaves, that had lincoln and the slaves he was freeing. even today it isn't like on -- you know, where you're going to go to look at the monuments and statues. it's on any special tour unless you know it's there. >> there are places to go, but they're dwarfed by the number of
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monuments that were put up in the throes of reconciliation. austin? >> about arlington national cemetery, the graves of the united states colored troops, who died during the war, and they're on the back end of it. >> we've talked about this before. so if you've been to arlington, if you go into arlington, there is a clear section for the united states colored troops, but there's also a significant section that is rarely visited that is for the grave of free people. because arlington was also a freedman's bureau location. there are a significant number of graves that have -- that simply say, citizen on them. right? >> i didn't know until my third tour of arlington, that i finally saw that. >> yeah. okay. i said i would talk about the civil war scholarship.
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civil war scholarship. so if we talk about the civil war scholarship in the era of the centennial, what do we find? we find this. scholarship in the 1960s was a very different place. when we talked in our classroom, we've been talking about the cause of the civil war and our battle has been sort of between the -- or at least the folks we talked about, we talked about whether or not it's about state's rights or slavery. i think we've come to see where the scholarship is today, nearly every scholar says that the civil war is at some level, and i stress the some level, caused by slavery. its expansion into the west, and the political reactions to that act. it is certainly not a war that is caused by desire to free the slaves. although once in a blue moon i'll still hear that in new england. but in the 1960s, it was very different, it was between scholars who argued over whether or not the civil war as clash of
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cultures between north and south, or was it bungling politicians. now, at the point that we're looking at, the question was really the scholarship sort of focused on the acts of politicians, were they responsible. there, too, i think you can see echoes of the time. and even though there are prominent historians who work on african-american history, there are prominent black historians. there's the legacy, but john franklin and benjamin quarrels, a bunch of people whose work is available. there are also white scholars writing about slavery. but the mainstream of the historical profession is not looking at that scholarship. the debate continues to be very much like the postage stamps that we saw. it's about the battles, it's about the politicians who let the battles happen.
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questions? jamie? >> i think how blight talks about an essay that had never been published. but he talks about how the line was something like, the lost cause has been a force of good. in the history of this country. he obviously had a hard time reconciling that. how blight rationalized that is that's how most americans saw it. it was a benevolent source of good to that point. >> and they still saw the lost cause memory as a -- yes. >> as a union fining force. as that question. and then obliterated. >> yeah. matt? >> jamie i think mentioned earlier about the fact that the cold war has gone on at this point. is it possible that the
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historians are being affected by the fact that we don't want to show that our country has got this fragmentation in it, because of this global face that we want to show the rest of the world? i mean, i never really was able to put this all together. and it is interesting that you mentioned with king's speech. it's interesting that he mentions that, in his speech, but we're still sort of seemingly dominated by this idea that we have to maintain a national front. it's almost like in contemporary times you look at the patriot act. and what it does to certain thought, so that we don't appear weak to terrorists across the world. does the way that we handle the centennial of the civil war memory, sort of like a -- on stage for the whole world so they see we've come back
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together, we're a very strong country, reconciled, and we have civil wars, but we don't have fragmentation in our society? >> that is a really good question. i might have to mull that over. it certainly does strike me that any radical narrative of the civil war is not on the table. because it does -- radical narratives of the war look like other radical narratives from elsewhere. there are certainly people who write them. there are communist historians writing history of the period. but the kind of overall v much about unity, as you say. very much. john? >> it's not really in answer per se to your question, but my own research and stuff for classes, i have found soviet propaganda, crumbling statue of liberty, and the kkk being like, is this
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freedom, is this equality. and so it was something that -- american politicians are going to see it, and i'm sure it definitely is something they thought about. >> you can see where the soviets would use it as fodder as their own propaganda. >> there's the cartoon that pops up where there's a white hand playing with a black child. two months before gettysburg, before the centennial. >> okay. so let me jump forward to the 150th, because that's where we are now. you may have all noticed there is a connecticut sesquicentennial commemoration. i'm not sure you see him, but dr. warshower is in here somewhere. he is there. is he in blue? yes, almost certainly. it is safe to say he's in blue. you will notice that the
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t-shirts are all blue. there's no gray t-shirt in connecticut. i would say for the 150th, in some ways, this is an observation, there is no national commission. there were efforts to create a national commission. they failed. what we have now is a whole bunch of state level commissions doing their own thing. so that whatever we may think about the kind of unification of the country with the civil war, we essentially have a state's view of what the civil war means, one state after the other. that's not necessarily such a bad thing. it may tell us the state level view is not as different as it used to be. does somebody have a watch to tell me what time it is? that gives me a good sense of where i am. so let me talk a little bit about some things that i've observed. and i'd love to have your feedback. so i went with connecticut civil
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war sesquicentennial commission several weeks ago. it's fascinating, because at the level of what i would call the official narrative, again, a narrative that is public that is put out by historical associations, by schools, at that level, the narrative has really changed since my childhood. i'm not talking about people's private views in either upper new england or lower south. if you go ask somebody the meaning of the civil war in a diner, you'll get whatever you get. but if you go to the capital of the confederacy in richmond, a trip i highly recommend, if you are fortunate, you will have a tour by a guy named mark greeno who did a fabulous job with a whole bunch of connecticut yankees who appeared one day. if you go into the capital, of course, the capital is the place where lee took the commission of
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the virginia legislature to become the kind of commanding general of the virginia troops. it is filled with confederate memory. and yet the public narrative now is much more nuanced. they have a fabulous exhibit looking at secession. and now, i'm quite confident that 20 years ago that narrative would have been all about the solid south. that would have been all about that. not now. those exhibits show all the complexity of virginia politicians that we saw in the presence of mine enemies. a book we didn't read. so it has pro, it has con, it has vividly displayed a group of virginia politicians, who, of course, seceded on their own from virginia to create west virginia. so the narrative may actually be moving a little bit.
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although there is this statue, and i realize this is hard to see. this is a statue that is called brothers. it was installed in the virginia capital in 2011. it depicts this sort of the one fighting for the union, one for the confederacy. they're embracing. if you're close enough youd coud see the union soldier has real shows, the southern soldier's shoes are falling apart. it is brand-new. it's next to, or across the hall from the plaques that talk about secession in a complicated way. but even though i think that this is very much all about reconciliationist memory, i don't know how you could possibly be more about reconciliationist memory than this, i do think that the narratives are changing and much more complicated. we had a candid conversation about slavery. we had a candid conversation about the ways in which the end
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of slavery became part of the union mission during the war. we had a capped identification conversation about reconstruction. public narratives are shifting a little bit. but i was also kind of curious, and i only had a little bit of time to do some research for this. virginia, of course, is the northern part of the south. i'm not sure virginians want to hear it that way. but virginia is almost border land country. we see from ed ayers' book, it's right there on the cusp until lincoln calls for troops to put down the rebellion. a good chunk in virginia is not interested in secession. but if you go to richmond, you can see other kinds have changed. so this is monument avenue. who's been to richmond? not many of you? monument avenue is sort of the pantheon of confederate
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greatness. one statue after another. i can't even begin to show scale. this is huge. that's jeff davis up on top there. there's one for robert e. lee. but in the 1990s, there was one for arthur ashe. as kind of the -- as richmond became a more diverse city, people argued there should be something on monument avenue that does not reflect that segregationist past. the result was this arthur ashe statue, which is pretty big. not as big as jeff davis, but it's pretty big. it's pretty large. so moving away from virginia, though, i'm sort of curious -- yeah, matt? >> in doing a paper, i actually came across an article that was in the southern -- southeastern geographer, and the article explored the symbolic meaning of lee to the city. this is about richmond. it is now mostly african-american. and the argument was that, i
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guess they had re-done the canal area. there's this big mural of robert e. lee there. and it's like the african-american population demanded that it be taken down. and so it does seem like there is a real expression of political power in that city now. >> well, it's an interesting place. it does come up. if you go, i also highly recommend the museum of the confederacy. it's a fascinating place in its own right. its bookstore is fascinating. it is not -- you might imagine being up here in new england, you might imagine it is completely going to be committed to the lost cause memory, but it's not. what's interesting about it is jefferson davis' white house is what it's called and the museum of the confederacy are smack dab in the middle of a massive hospital complex. so if you go to it, you have a
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largely african-american city. you have a very diverse population. as you walk to it. and then when you get to the museum of the confederacy, suddenly everyone around you is white, and older. it's a very clear demographic shift. >> but it's just interesting, again, for -- to equate it, or to look at it from connecticut's point of view. >> yes. >> i forget where it was, but the piquaut, i think stonington had this big monument to the victory over the piquauts. and now they're a very powerful force in connecticut politics. and i believe they had -- they were able to muster enough political support to get that monument taken down. >> i don't know about that one. >> but a point of the fact as groups start to exert certain political power, they're able to change the narrative, and change the memory of any particular given event. >> it's certainly about power. sometimes it's raw political
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power. across the board. but sometimes it's also the power of the changing narrative. which you sort of hope historians are part of. we don't want to be immodest, because we noticed, speaking on behalf of professional historians, we notice a lot of people pay no attention to what we have to say. we have noticed this. i think scholarship does move things ever so slightly. it is probably also the case that we are looking for narratives that fit better who we are today. and that may mean taking some monuments down. it may mean rethinking them. i think i mentioned in this class, the classes start to blur, that for many, many years new orleans had a series of schools named for john mcdonough who gave a fabulous fortune to the city of new orleans in the 19th century. he gave the money to be used on -- to be used for schooling. quote, without regard for cast or color.
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new orleans got half the money, baltimore got the other half. i believe there are no longer john mcdonough schools in new orleans, because the name was synonymous with segregation. there's a decent sized john mcdonough statue, though. so i went looking. i went looking for kind of more memory. and i have to say that it's actually very, very hard to look for civil war commemoration memories in new england outside of connecticut. it's a little -- even as somebody from a border state, it's -- the civil war is less visible, it's less present. like i said, you grew up near robert e. lee park, you can't not know something, right? but in new england, it's very, very different. the narrative here is all about abolition. the whole notion of the civil war being a war to free the slaves, that's got a lot to do with new england's abolitionist's memory of itself.
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i went looking. my first hit was fascinating to me. and i will share. april, 1864, a battle at poison springs in arkansas. and these two plaques are old plaques that commemorate a confederate victory over union troops. now, it is an interesting battle, because there was a reenactment two weeks ago, and i wish i was there, because i have a question. poison springs was a fairly minor skirmish in the grand scheme of things. but what happened after poison springs, the picture may not show this, but the battle was between confederate troops and the first kansas colored infantry. okay? and after the battle, both union and confederate accounts demonstrate that confederate soldiers murdered surviving black soldiers.
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all right? like ft. pillow, smaller scale. it fascinates me to no end that washington county, arkansas, reenacted the battle. created a group of african-american -- created a reenactment of the first kansas colored to reenact the battle. the question is, what did they do at the end of the battle? and i am curious. the -- one of the folks involved in the reenactment is a state official. i'm going to write him and ask. but even without knowing that, even without knowing what they did with the massacre, it tells us something, i think, about the public narrative that you can go to washatau county and have a reenact of a battle between white troops and black troops. that is put on by the local historical society, enchampioned on the state's civil war commemoration commission.
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one or two more pictures of the battle. here's my last thing. so i wanted to talk together about what we think will happen with the civil war bicentennial. we should keep it fairly brief because we're running out of time. here's what i think is going to happen. at least a start. i think one of the big questions is going to be diversity. because i think we can see that the narrative has changed. at some level. all right? we all generally accepted that emancipation, and the disintegration of slavery driven by african-americans themselves changes the nature of the war, changes the nature of the conflict. at a professional level, i think those things are not going to change much. whether or not the public
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narrative moves further, or private narrative moves further is open to question. what happens in the bicentennial? i don't know. but i think it will be shaped by two things. one is the changing diversity of the country. because it is already the case that huge numbers of americans have no familial tie, even distantly, to the civil war. and the other is, i'm not sure that the political lessons of the civil war will translate as well in 50 years. but i'm not sure. but let's open it up to you guys. what do you think it will look like in 50 years? 2fj:÷?7 i will have nothing to do with it. >> i don't want to make it all political in a powerful thing that is not memory, but as the demographics of the country change, i think the memory is going to shift. i think what year, but it will be long before the 200th
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anniversary. you're going to have where the white is not going to be a clear majority in this country. i think that will probably affect how the memory of the war is portrayed. >> john? >> to go on that, i think the reconciliation thing is going to be very much absent, or very much less stated because of the growing diversity. you see the changing demographics in areas where the lost cause are the strongest, and places like that. there's going to be less of that divide between north and south as you see immigration and other factors go into it. >> i'm going to be fascinated to see what happens in new england. because i've talked a lot about the south. but i'm actually>2ñi not sure w civil war memory is going to look like in new england, because i think it already is not that visible. if it wasn't for a very active state level commemoration commission, i'm not sure what they would be doing in connecticut right now. connecticut strikes me as being
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the new england state that's doing a lot. but will there be a bicentennial commission? what will it do? how many of the sites that we talk about will be gone? even now, we talk about the battlefields that are disappearing. it will be interesting if we have kind of more of an emancipationist memory. it will raise some interesting questions. we talk all about the anniversaries of the civil war. but we never talk about the anniversary of reconstruction. so i think there's still a limit, right? and it may be the case that we have crossed -- sort of crossed a rubicon with slavery. that doesn't mean we've dealt with racism. it doesn't mean we've dealt with that part. if we were to commemorate reconstruction, i don't know where we would do it or how. but i know it would be a lot more uncomfortable than recreating the battle at poison springs. overall. any questions?
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john? yeah? >> i think to approach reconstruction in the future, you might have to look at the civil rights movement in the 1960s and say this is a long lesson. >> it might be that the civil rights commemoration might be more important of the 200th, it may be bigger than the 200th of the civil war. that would be interesting. jamie? >> i think at the federal level, slow recognition of the -- i think they put up a portrait of the rebel also in the capital, i want to say. there is sort of, as much as the public understands reconstruction, it's very messy. that's going to be up there forever. and it's sort of -- it's 150 years late, but an attempt to say this happened. and this is what it was. >> yeah. right. austin? >> i'm going to go to the dark
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end. maybe in about 50 years' time, the country, or, you know, the nation will be more willing to talk about the negative side, like reconstruction, which is which is pretty a bleak period of history. just a case in point, with my paper for your class, about the little bighorn, i learned more about the western history as a whole. and it's changed the narrative to incorporate more of the native american side. and the nasty aspects of western expansion, i believe, they now have like -- the sites are a memorial to the sand creek massacre, or the washia, which is one of custer's battles against the indians, which was -- you can argue was a slaughter, or massacre. but it's just a more open -- it was brought to the public light and not shunned away for the turner thesis, so to speak.
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that's the way i see it. >> i think i will be pushing up daisies, so i don't think i will know. but anyway, that's all for this evening. i have one quick announcement. that is, papers due one week from today, unless you're also in dr. quick seal are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span three. to join the conversation, like us on face at cspanhistory. >> each week, american history tv's american artifacts visits museums and historic places. in honorary of the anniversary of the panama canal opening, artifacts from work on the canal, beginning in 1904.
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workers from around the world came to build it. the canal was not only an engineering feat, but a subject of fascination for americans, who followed its construction with keen interest. sheet music was produced. newspapers published updates. photographers took hundreds of pictures of the construction and the people who lived and worked in the canal zone. perhaps 25,000 to 35,000. the second largest group was comprised of spanish workers. they were almost 12,000. the workers, when they got to -- it was not exactly how they were told. housed -- theye lived more or less ok, but the flyer that was distributed in
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galatia, the picture that was shown was a picture of a hotel for american workers. so there was a division. american workers were on one side, and everybody else was on the other. the spanish workers were have list -- were housed in barracks style buildings, with i will say army cots. and those were the lucky ones. the others, they had to sleep in railroad cars. others, they had to sleep in tents. and the west indians, they suffered the most, because they -- they were basically left to fend off by themselves. we may have one of the richest collections about the panama canal anywhere in the world.
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it's like opening a window into the past. and you have to use your imagination a little bit, you know, too. so, i imagine that you will be able to get what it was like to work ann's to live -- and to live during those 10 years that it took to build the canal. >> you can watch this and other american artifacts programs anytime by visiting our website at >> next, kenneth bowling, george washington university history professor and author of "the creation of washington dc: the idea and location of the american capital." he spoke about the debate and compromise over the location of the capital at a symposium marking the 200th anniversary of the british burning of washington,


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